Liverpool are plotting an audacious swoop to poach Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun on a free transfer.
The 19-year-old striker is out of contract in the summer and is yet to agree on an extension at the Emirates.
Balogun has rejected previous offers from Arsenal due to concerns over a lack of first-team opportunities, and looked like he could leave in the summer.
Arsenal turned down a bid from Sheffield United as they demanded a higher asking price, but could now lose him for nothing.
Due to Balogun’s age, interested suitors must wait until he is out of contract before making an official approach, which keeps the advantage with Arsenal for now.
The Gunners are hopeful of tying down Balogun to a new deal after Mikel Arteta handed the youngster his senior debut in October.
Since then he has racked up a total of five appearances, scoring twice in the process.
New York-born Balogun impressed in Arsenal’s youth system with a standout goalscoring record (25 goals in 19 appearances), and has shown his finishing qualities with strikes against Molde and Dundalk in the Europa League.
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Liverpool have snapped up young talent in similar fashion in the past, having prised Dominic Solanke from Chelsea for nothing before selling him on for £20million two years later.
But Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists Balogun wants to continue his career in north London.
Speaking earlier this month, Arteta said: “We are having some discussions with the player. He knows we want to retain him at the club.
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“We know the length of his contract at the moment is an issue but we are trying to resolve it in the best possible way.
“We want him to stay and he told me he wants to stay at the club so hopefully we can reach an agreement and extend his contract.”
Negotiations are said to be ongoing between Balogun and Arsenal, though both parties are some way off concluding a deal.
And while Liverpool are interested, there is competition from clubs in Germany – a prospect which is believed to be attracting Balogun’s attention more so than staying in the Premier League.